“Welcome to our world, Earl”

The Rome Tribune in Georgia is running a tart and entertaining column this morning about the difficulties State Representative Earl Ehrhart recently experienced with an open records request.

Ehrhart is the chairman of the House Rules Committee in the Georgia state assembly. He was told he’d have to pay $1,045 to obtain copies of e-mails regarding state budget money transfers. He was outraged, as noted here.

The Georgia press, appropriately, is using this experience as a teaching moment. After all, if a powerful member of the state assembly is treated this way, how does the press get treated? How do regular citizens get treated?

The feisty Rome Tribune knows exactly what they think about this:

Sometimes, given the foot-dragging and amazing bills encountered [when filing open records requests], it appears that the only difference between a dictatorship and a representative democracy is that under the totalitarian regime they shoot you if you ask questions and in the democracy they make you pay dearly for asking them.

Also:

It is to be hoped that Ehrhart’s little taste of reality will lead to some meaningful, pro-freedom-of-information adjustments to the Open Records Act.

It’s good to see these newspapers jumping into the conversation.

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